Saturday, November 10, 2007

Luis Herrera Campins is dead: a honest life

Ex Venezuelan president Luis Herrera Campins died Friday. He was elected for the 1979-1984 term.

I am not going to write a big praisefull eulogy of him: I never liked him very much. I suppose that it is since then that I have been weary of "llanero" politicians, a weariness that has become allergy under Chavez.

However compared to Chavez Herrera Campins looks like not such a bad president after all. In 5 years he did at least as much as Chavez in his 9 years. During Herrera term we got, for example, the Caracas subway and the Teresa Carreño that chavismo has hijacked now as its very own private meeting arena (ask when was the opposition allowed to hold a meeting at the Teresa Carreño). He also presided over the collapse of the Venezuelan currency during his last year in office. With this he started the irreversible decline of his political party, COPEI.

His main fault if we must cite it, is that his surprise election gave him the opportunity to effect important changes in Venezuela. But he did not do it and continued on the populist ways of Carlos Andres preceding term. Thus he had to pay for both terms mistakes.

But he had virtues which today are totally absent from government. If his administration was not exempt of corruption, it is an established fact that he did not benefit directly from it. He lived his old years out of his retirement as senator and we are told that some of the privileges reserved for ex presidents, such as a secretary/body guard were removed. In fact, after his presidency he returned to the house where he raised his family, a not very large one which he bought from his state representative paychecks. A couple of years ago he was seen around the neighborhood walking on foot because his car was stolen and he did not have the means to replace it. We are told today that his friends and old political associates had to foot part of the medical bills of the disease that took him away last night at 82.

The Chavez family has acquired huge tracks of land in Barinas and the retirement of any of the Chavez is ensured with a fat cattle ranch, full of servants. Most chavista ministers seem to also have ensured a nice retirement. Probably many of them will be able to replace without much trouble their Audis or Hummers if they get stolen. Though that seems unlikely as they tend to have a lot of body guards along. No walking on foot in the neighborhood for them to go and buy a loaf of bread when an orderly is there for them 24/24.

And thus we say good bye to Luis Herrera Campins, certainly not the best president we had but very likely the most honest one we had, with Leoni. Caldera has probably been honest too but his family has benefited. We have not heard tales of sudden riches from the Herrera or Leoni families during or after the tenure of their father.

Curiously the Chavez administration was rather prompt to acknowledge the dead of Herrera although no state funerals due to his ranks seem to be planned. Chavez dad was a political agent of COPEI during Herrera days (if memory serves me well) which could explain the acknowledgment. But the cult of personality of Chavez seems already too advanced to acknowledge anyone who has ruled before him, even more someone who has not benefited from power and already reached the Miraflores seat chubby, unlike Chavez who got bloated once there. So no one is expecting a state funeral. Might as well, I am sure that Herrera would not have enjoyed the presence of chavista ministers near to him in such an occasion.

-The end-

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